The debut self-titled EP To Be Astronauts by To Be Astronauts has good old fashioned ‘70s style rock songs that resurrect the times when the genre had some attitude. How can anyone argue that bands like Deep Purple, Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin make the gloss covered bubblegum so called mainstream rock of today seem like it was made for your five-year-old niece. The days of a three-minute drum solo in the middle of a rock song just cause is nowhere to be found on the radio.
It’s refreshing to hear a band like To Be Astronauts embracing the aesthetics from ‘70’s rock and pulling it off. Truth be told there are plenty of indie acts who try to catch the magic but for whatever reason can’t. To Be Astronauts have that X-factor the makes their music feel genuine instead of a facsimile and that's the main reason why their debut is such a pleasure to listen to.
Up first is “Stigma Alpha” which opens with a riff that has me thinking I was going to be listening to a band more aligned with punk. The four-chord progression ends up working just fine and the band had me once I heard the vocals of Max Schwartz. Great rock voice. Doesn’t take himself too seriously, is dynamic and has some goddamn passion in his voice. I was already sold halfway through but once they break into the outro, which is a Black Sabbath style breakdown revolving a copious amount of drum fills and distorted lead guitar I was rocking out.
“Cosmic Bitch” is an eight-plus-minute song that explores a topic not uncommon amongst rock bands - indulgence and women. The band kicks through a good amount of riffs and reaches its apex around the six-minute mark where Schwartz sounds similar to Chris Cornell. I’m sure he won’t have any problem with that comparison.
The band covers a lot of ground on “Riff Raff” as they go from one palm muted power chord progression to another. As with the other songs the band knows how to close strong. Speaking of closing strong that's what they do with “Cold Climax” which is the most dynamic song that goes from clean guitar picking to mounds of distortion and vocal harmonies.
Their debut isn’t perfect but I can say all four of these songs deliver. This is a very promising start and as long as they continue to define their own sound from this foundation of ‘70s rock I could see this band kicking a whole lot of ass.
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